A Norwegian couple were pulling the floor from their house to install insulation when they made an unusual historic discovery. A viking burial ground.
The discovery happened by the end of May 2020. The couple found a number of Viking era artifacts, and now archaeologists believe that they have found a Viking grave, right there, under their floor. Experts are currently carrying out a survey of the site, and the grave is being hailed as a very significant find.
Mariann Kristiansen from Seivåg near Bodø told Norway's state broadcaster NRK of the find:
"We first thought it was the wheel of a toy car.” … “It wasn't until later that we realized what it could be”
That was when they first found a glass bead. The couple only later realized the historic importance of what they found after some further digging, when they found an iron axe head and some other metallic objects that were all obviously older than the house.
They knew that it had to be old because the house had been built in 1914 and the floorboards had not been moved since. The house has been in the same family for over a century.
Viking ax head, representation of the find at the Viking burial site in Norway.
The couple contacted the local authorities and experts from the local Nordland county government came to inspect the finds. Martinus Hauglid told the couple that they had most likely found a grave from the Iron Age in Norway.
The archaeologist told The Local that the couple had found an “ax dated between 950 and 1050 AD”. The bead of glass, which was revealed to be blue, dates from the same period.
A glass bead was among the first objects discovered in the Viking grave.
It is believed that the stones found underneath the flooring came from a burial. The stones were likely part of a cairn. In this type of burial, a mound of stones and rocks are erected over the deceased which was a very common burial practice in the Iron Age.
Archaeologists have begun an investigation of the grave. Under Norwegian Law any human artifacts or “activity before 1537 are automatically preserved”. The items found by the couple have been transported to the Tromsø Museum for conservation and safekeeping.
These stones formed the top of what archaeologists believe is a Viking burial ground.
End of the Viking Age
According to the archeologist Martinus, the finds under the floorboards date back to a time “when Norway transitioned to Christianity to become one kingdom” when most vikings began to abandon the old religion. This was the time when kings like Olaf Tryggvason attempted to dominate the many chiefdoms and create a centralized state.
Some of these monarchs sought to impose Christianity on the Norse people as part of their efforts at state-building and this led to many civil wars. The grave could help researchers to better understand this crucial period in Norwegian history which saw the demise of the Viking Age.
Kristiansen's great-grandfather built the house in 1914 completely unaware that he was building a private residence over a grave.
Viking era grave goods displayed at the National Museum of Iceland.